February 25, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – One Jefferson City Southern Baptist woman has learned that the battlefield can be a lonely place if you decide to take a stand for morality.
Barbara Holst, a member of Southridge Baptist Church, decided it was time to take on the Missouri River Regional Library recently after learning that a sexually explicit book had been placed on library shelves for all ages to see.
The book, The Sexual Life of Catherine M., recounts in graphic detail the sexual exploits of its author.
Holst, a former library employee, received information that the book had been placed into circulation by library officials and decided to circulate a petition, asking for its removal.
The library board met Monday, Feb. 10, and voted 7-1 to leave the book in circulation.
Holst was one of only four to appear in favor of removing the book. Referring to a statement on the book’s dust jacket, she said the book acknowledges that it is pornography. She added that taxpayers’ money should not be spent on pornography.
More than 40 showed up at the library meeting in support of keeping the book.
"Almost everybody agreed it was not a good book, but they argued that removing the book would be censorship," Holst said.
What bothered the Jefferson City woman as much as the pornographic book was the lack of support she received in her efforts to get the book removed. Only three others joined Holst at the library meeting, and only one of the three joined in speaking out against the book.
"This type of apathy among Christians is very typical, but it’s also very frustrating," said Karrie Messer, the former director of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission.
"We are guilty of the same sin of the Israelites. They became so preoccupied with their personal lives that they forgot about taking a stand for personal righteousness … We need to realize that God has placed us in this culture for a reason, and that reason is not to stick our heads in the sand on issues like this.
Rodney Albert, chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission, said he is not surprised that more of the local community did not get behind Mrs. Holst’s effort. "But I am shocked that only a handful of Baptists spoke out against this book," Albert said. "It’s shocking that Mrs. Holst had to stand alone."
Albert said Missouri Baptists must start putting their faith into practice "to make sure that Christ’s standards are upheld."
"This thing of being a Christian is a 24/7 thing. We’ve got to find issues to stand on and to stand firm on."
Albert said he thinks it would help if Missouri Baptists had a network established that would generate support in instances such as the Jefferson City library book situation. "We need to know when other Missouri Baptists are in the trenches fighting on social and moral issues so we can join them in that fight," Albert said.
Monte Shinkle, president of the Missouri Baptist Convention, applauded Mrs. Holst for her stand against the book.
Shinkle said in his February 23 Sunday sermon at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, that when Christians are told to take up their cross and follow Jesus, it means there are times when they are not going to be popular with the world.
"Even if no one here supported Mrs. Holst, I’m certain Heaven applauded her for her stand," Shinkle said. "I believe that with all my heart."